8/14/18

Peach Upside-Down Cake from Secrets of the Southern Table by Virginia Willis


At the beginning of this year, I decided to make more recipes that will challenge my culinary skills. This past weekend, I did just that when I baked Peach Upside-Down Cake from Secrets of the Southern Table by Virginia Willis

I've been following Virginia Willis on social media for a while, and bought a ticket to a dinner she hosted in DC as soon as I saw it announced. The dinner was part of her book tour for the newly released Secrets of the Southern Table. I received a preview copy of the book from Virginia's publishers, and as soon as I tried the Peach Upside-Down Cake at dinner, I knew I'd have to make it. 

During the dinner I also tried and loved Virginia's shrimp and grits, but the highlight of the night was hearing about the new cookbook and the stories of Southern cuisine. Virginia researched the book for a year and shares stories of farmers, makers and growers, and immigrants who have impacted the food. You'll learn that Southern cuisine is not just okra, shrimp and grits, and fried chicken. The book includes recipes for dishes such as shredded beef arepas, Mexican chocolate pudding, tomato-ginger green beans, and chicken and butterbean paella.

But let's talk about cake for now!

This was my first time making an upside-down cake, and I was nervous. Would it come out as light and flavorful as Virginia's? Will it stick to the cast iron skillet? Will my friend who came over for her belated birthday celebration like it? Well, I had nothing to worry about.




PEACH UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE from SECRETS OF THE SOUTHERN TABLE by VIRGINIA WILLIS. Copyright © 2018 by VIRGINIA WILLIS. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

Peach Upside-Down Cake
Serves 10

Southern peaches are something special. The trouble is, you pretty much have to live in the South to understand what the fuss is about, because peaches bought elsewhere are most often picked green and hard before shipping. 

When ag-entrepreneur Stephen Rose moved to Nashville in the summer of 2010, he made a disheartening discovery: No one was selling fresh, flavorful peaches like the kind he’d grown up with in Peach County, Georgia. He had an idea. He and his wife bought a 1964 Jeep truck and started selling big, beautiful, juicy Georgia peaches out of their cab in Nashville. Within five weeks, the city had consumed over ten tons of their brown-bagged peaches. Now the Peach Truck Tour travels through Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsylvania!

Pineapple upside-down cake is a Southern classic and is most often made with canned pineapple.

This version uses fresh peaches and is a vast improvement, in my opinion. You can use all-purpose flour instead of the cake flour, but the results will be a bit heavier and slightly dense.

4 medium peaches (about1½ pounds), unpeeled and cut into⅓-inch-thick wedges
Juice of 1 lemon
1 cup cake flour, not self-rising
¾ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup granulated sugar
10 tablespoons (½ cup plus 2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
2 large eggs
½ cup sour cream

Bourbon Cream (recipe follows)

1.Heat oven to 350ºF. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. (This step helps with cleanup.)

2.Toss the peaches with the lemon juice in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda.

3.Cook ¼ cup of the granulated sugar over medium heat in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, for 10 minutes, or until the sugar melts and turns a deep amber color. Remove from the heat. Immediately add 2 tablespoons of the butter and stir vigorously. Arrange the peach wedges in concentric circles over the sugar mixture, overlapping them as needed.

4.In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the remaining ¾ cup granulated sugar, ½ cup butter, and vanilla bean seeds on medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Add the sour cream and beat until blended. With the mixer running on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture, beating just until blended and stopping to scrape bowl as needed. Spoon the batter over the peaches in the skillet and spread to cover. Place the skillet on the prepared baking sheet.

5.Bake until golden brown and a wooden toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in the skillet on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife around edge to loosen.

6.Carefully pour out any excess liquid from the skillet into a measuring cup and set aside. (It’s okay if you don’t have any excess liquid—it all depends on how juicy your fruit is.) Carefully invert the cake onto a serving plate and drizzle with any reserved liquid. Let cool slightly, about 10 minutes. Cut into wedges using a serrated knife. Top with bourbon cream and serve immediately.

Bourbon Cream

Makes about 1 cup

½ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon bourbon


1.Combine the cream and bourbon in a large bowl. Refrigerate, along with a whisk, for at least 15 minutes. Once chilled, beat the cream with the chilled whisk until it holds soft peaks, 3 to 5 minutes.



The recipe was incredibly easy to follow and filled my condo with such a sweet aroma. I used only 3 peaches and vanilla extract instead of vanilla bean. The cake had no trouble coming out of the cast iron skillet and had crispy edges, while remaining tender on the inside.

I did not have bourbon and used orange flavored vodka for the topping ;)

The only downsize of this baking project was the mess I left in my kitchen!

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